Monday, October 20, 2014

Football 2014 - Week 8

My recap of the only football games that matter

Time for the coin flip on another football roundup as seen through my eyes. On high school Friday night Bishop Kenny got back to their winning ways over a weak opponent. They dominated the winless Stanton Blue Devils 39-0. The Crusaders defense had two safeties and returned an interception for a TD. Kenny improves to 5-1, 4-1 on the season. They next travel to Yulee to face the Hornets in another district game. The Florida Times-Union, the local Jacksonville paper, is making it more difficult to get the high school football results without subscribing. I can find the score through other sources but not always the box score and stats. 

Here in Bedford the Bell Blue Raiders continued their losing ways in a big 45-3 loss to district rival Colleyville Heritage. Bell scored first but then were shutout the rest of the game as the Panthers reeled off 45 points. The Raiders seem to have a knack of scoring the first or last points in a game but very few during the rest of the game. It was another pitiful performance with only 115 total yards, 33 through the air. That's against 420 total yards for Colleyville. The Raiders fall to 0-8, 0-4 this year. They have their best chance for a win next week when they meet the also winless Haltom Buffaloes in a battle for the district cellar. 

It was another exciting weekend in the college ranks. I was happy that USF, TCU and Florida all played at different times. It started at 11:00 with South Florida at the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Does it seem odd to you that a Florida school is playing an Oklahoma school and the team from Tulsa is the one named for a tropical storm? How many hurricanes do you suspect have hit Tulsa? I know some have hit Tampa because I have been there during a few. Back to the game. I watched the first half and it was Tulsa 27, Bulls 7. USF looked terrible so I made a decision to go eat lunch and run by the grocery store so I'd be free to watch the TCU and Florida games later in the day. Big mistake. The normally offense challenged Bulls outscored Tulsa 31-3 in the second half for a 38-30 conference win. I was shocked when I got home and saw the score. About halfway through the third quarter it was 30-14. USF then reeled off 24 points including an 85 yard TD pass play. The Hurricane actually outgained South Florida by about 75 yards, held the ball six minutes longer and had one fewer turnovers.  USF is now 3-4, 2-1 for the season. Next up they travel to play the 3-3 Cincinnati Bearcats (or Catbears?).

The #12 TCU Horned Frogs played next. They hosted the #15 OSU Cowboys in beautiful Amon Carter Stadium. This should have been a close game between closely matched ranked conference rivals. It wasn't. TCU crushed the Cowboys 42-9. It was 28-9 at the midpoint and then the Frogs pitched a shutout in the second half. TCU's explosive offense gained 676 yards to OSU's 278. It was a complete rout. The Frogs are now 5-1, 2-1 and are in control of their own destiny in the Big 12 Conference (which has only 10 teams). It won't be easy, but is doable. An undefeated run would probably put them into the mix for one of the four playoff spots due to strength of schedule with only one loss. Their next game is also in Fort Worth against Texas Tech.

Now to the disaster. The Florida Gators hosted the Missouri Tigers in an SEC East matchup of two mediocre at best teams. As it turned out, Mizzou is way less mediocre than Florida. It started with Missouri returning the opening kickoff for a TD with 11 seconds expired. On Florida's first possession they lost a fumble. Not even close to the end of the turnovers. The Tigers threw an interception a couple of plays later, but that was their last one. The Gators were just getting started. I'll cut to the chase and tell you that Missouri won the game 42-13. Florida was shutout in the first half. After significant halftime adjustments by brilliant head coach Will Muschamp, they were only outscored 22-13 in the second half. The Gators conducted a clinic on how to turn over the ball and collapse on (un)special teams. Mizzou scored on the opening kickoff, a punt return, a fumble return and an interception. They didn't even need the offense to win the game. Florida had six turnovers, three fumbles and three interceptions. Jeff (Mr. Interception) Driskel threw two interceptions and fumbled twice. His replacement, freshman Treon Harris, also had an interception and a fumble. If you are keeping count, that is six turnovers by Gators QBs. To anyone who has watched the Gators this year, it is blatantly obvious that Driskel cannot play QB in a major conference. It is also obvious to me that Muschamp cannot run a major college football program, certainly not in the SEC or the state of Florida. The Gators won the stats battle although they were miserable for both teams. The Tigers didn't need to gain many yards since Florida continually gave them short fields and easy TDs. It was a terrible showing by the Gators in The Swamp. They get to stew in this lose for two weeks since they have an open week. Seems like a good time to change QBs and maybe coaches. After the bye, they meet #10 Georgia at the big party in Jacksonville. Good luck with that.

In other SEC games, it seemed like blowouts was the trend. I already documented the Mizzou blowout of Florida. #3 Ole Miss beat Tennessee 34-3, #7 Alabama demolished #21 A&M 59-0, LSU won over Kentucky 41-3 and #10 Georgia beat Arkansas 45-32 although it was 38-6 at the half. South Carolina won the only non-conference game 41-10 over Furman. Alabama reestablished themselves as a top program although the two Mississippi teams remain atop the SEC West. Georgia is the only legitimate team in the East. A&M and South Carolina have faded miserably in the past few weeks. 

Outside the SEC, the big game was #5 Notre Dame at #2 FSU between ranked unbeaten teams. The game lived up to the hype. Since the Gators game was sickening, I switched the TV to the FSU game and watched the Gators on my laptop. Glad I did. The Florida massacre was a little less nauseating on a smaller screen and the FSU-ND game was good. The Irish led 17-10 at intermission but FSU came back to win 31-27. It looked like Notre Dame pulled it out in the closing seconds with a short TD pass. Unfortunately they were called for offensive pass interference and the TD was nullified. They failed to score on the next play and the Seminoles won. I thought the graphic below was amusing although completely inaccurate. Many if not most of the Notre Dame players are neither Catholics or Irish. Likewise, most of the FSU players are not criminals and probably none are Seminoles. 

The Big 12 (10 teams) took a couple of gut punches to their hopes to be represented in the playoffs. #4 Baylor lost to unranked West Virginia 41-27 and #11 Oklahoma was beaten at home in a mild upset by #14 Kansas State 31-30. TCU might be the conference's best chance.   

In the latest AP rankings, Mississippi State remains on top after a bye week. The SEC made history by placing four teams in the top five. Both Mississippi schools and the two Alabama teams. Of the seven teams in the SEC West, four are in the top five. One other SEC West team, LSU is also in the top 25. Pretty tough place to play. Of course some of this will shake out because Mississippi State must play Ole Miss and Alabama plays Auburn. Georgia also remains in the top ten. Locally, TCU broke into the top ten at #10. 

There was great news in the pro ranks this week. Tampa Bay didn't lose, they had a bye week. They get back to action against the Vikings on Sunday. 

The more exciting news is that the Jaguars won their first game of the season with a 24-6 victory over Cleveland. Jacksonville fell behind 6-0 so it looked like another futile day on offense and of course a lose. Amazingly they scored a TD with 0:27 left in the first half for a 7-6 lead at intermission. The Jags managed a third quarter FG and two fourth quarter TDs. They also shutout the Browns during the last 40 minutes of the game. Besides the first win of the season for Jax, it was Blake Bortles first win in the NFL. Despite the win it was not a good performance for Bortles. He was 17/31 for 159 yards and one TD. Unfortunately he also threw three interceptions and was sacked twice. Hopefully the Jaguars can build on this victory and start the long journey back to being a contending franchise. Their record is now 1-6. Next week is an in-state home game against the Miami Dolphins.

Of course the Falcons had to contribute a lose to this mix. They were beaten 29-7 by the Ravens in a battle of the birds. Atlanta didn't score their lone TD until half way through the fourth quarter. It seems to me that the Falcons are getting worse. They fall to 2-5 this year and host the 5-2 Lions next. 

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